A view of Turret Arch on a cloudy day.

Arches National Park Hikes: 6 Best for Kids

Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by Kathryn

Looking for the best Arches National Park hikes to do with the fam? We’ve got you covered with the 6 best Arches hikes for you and your kids.

Is there anything that captivates kids (or adults!) more than the otherworldly red rock landscapes of Utah’s national parks?

Hiking is the best way to really take in the grandeur of these parks, and Arches has excellent hikes for families that are suitable for children, from toddlers to teens.

I’ve compiled a list of the best Arches National Park hikes to help make it easy for you to get out there with your family.

There are over 2,000 stone arches within the park! At only 119 square miles, Arches National Park is small relative to its neighbor, Canyonlands National Park (527 square miles), and is home to the densest concentration of arches in the world.

Many can be seen while driving or just off the road (our kids love spotting them!), while others take more effort to get to.

The iconic Delicate Arch is Utah’s state symbol – you’ve probably noticed it on Utah’s license plates – and is even more breathtaking than any photo you’ve seen of them, and hiking to it is very doable with kids.

So, get out and get hiking! Go find the best trail in Arches National Park!

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It’s so overwhelming to have a huge list of every possible hike in a National Park.

That’s why I’ve narrowed it down to the very best Arches National Park hikes for little legs. We have done all of these hikes with our kids!

It’s completely doable to do several of them in a single day, especially if you are staying nearby.

The Arches National Park Road is the only road that runs all the way through the park, and it’s only 36 miles roundtrip, so the trailheads are all located relatively close together.

We’ve found that in a single day, our younger kids (age 5 and younger) are usually happy doing one 2 – 4 mile hike (either walking or being carried in a backpack) in the morning and then several of these shorter ones (<1 mile) in the afternoon after they’ve had a good lunch.

I recommend doing the longer one first when energy is high. If yours can hike longer distances than these, then go for the longer hikes and you’ll be rewarded with fewer people on the trail.

Here’s our votes for the best Arches National Park hikes:

Length: 0.6 miles out-and-back

Elevation gain: 95 feet

The Double Arch Trail offers a lot of bang for your buck.

With a short, mostly flat, stroller-friendly walk, you can view two unique, giant arches. Another bonus is that the trail is usually shaded.

This is a great place to stop and take a picture!

I will warn you that, in my experience, kids seem to sense the arches beckoning them to come climb. Please keep an eye on your kids!

There are some steep drop offs that are easy for kids to scramble up the rock to get to. (I’ve panicked more than once watching kids come to close to the edge!)

Note: in your planning, don’t mistake Double Arch Trail for Arches National Park Double O Arch Trail. Both trails offer cool views of double arches, but they are not the same arches, nor are they the same trail! The Double O Arch Trail is a 4.1 mile out-and-back. It’s a fun hike, so go ahead and do it if you want!

Length: (1.9 miles)

Elevation: 252 feet

Don’t leave Arches without seeing the longest arch (306 feet) in North America!

At the moment, it is only 6 feet thick at its narrowest point, and at some point, it will erode and be gone forever – see it while you can!

This is another easy trail with minimum elevation gain and there aren’t steep drop-offs so it’s easy on a parent’s heart.

You can’t go wrong with any of the hikes in Arches, but this one in particular is spectacular. The arch is just so huge!

And, while going under the arch isn’t allowed, you are able to get close enough to sense how massive it is.

Although there’s a big parking lot, you may still have to wait for a spot as this is a popular area.

TIP: Keep an eye out on the trail for the sign to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch, which are just a few minutes’ walk (0.5 miles) off of the Landscape Arch Trail. There may be ice in winter.

Length: 1.2 miles

Elevation: 154 feet

This is an easy way to see three arches with one short hike.

The trail is in a very beautiful area of the park (but aren’t they all??) and the trail just might be what I think is the best hike at Arches!

This is a popular one with limited parking, so plan accordingly.

The Windows section is typically more crowded than the Turret Arch section of the trail, and the Turret Arch section is very short so don’t miss it!

There are toilets open year-round but no drinking water.

Length: 0.3 mile loop

Elevation: 55 feet

Balanced Rock or the Leaning Tower of Pisa – which will stay up longer?

One thing that we know is that, due to erosion, the gravity-defying Balanced Rock will fall at some point (a smaller balancing rock used to stand next to it until it fell nearly 50 years ago), so, see it while you can!

The trail is more of a stroll along a paved path than an actual hike.

The parking lot is just about at the midpoint of the Arches National Park Road, making it a fantastic place to stop for a picnic lunch.

Take a much-needed reprieve from the desert sun and eat at the canopy – shaded picnic tables.

Length: 0.3 miles

Elevation: 108 feet

The Arches National Park Sand Dune Arch: an overlooked treasure! This is by far my favorite place to relax with kids here in the warmer months.

A short walk from the parking lot gets you to a giant sandbox of red baby-powder-like sand under a small arch.

It’s shaded and a welcome respite from hiking in the sun and heat. If you want to know what bliss feels like, take your shoes off and bury your tired feet in the soft, cool sand – ahh!!

Despite the other trails being busy when we were there, this trail was unusually quiet. It almost felt like we had found a secret hideout.

We plopped down and let our kids play for a couple of hours. It was a nice break for all of us! Don’t skip the Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park!

I think that doing this combined with the Delicate Arch Trail together gives you the very best Arches National Park hikes, which makes for one awesome day.

Length: 3.2 miles

Elevation: 629 feet

Despite the crowds, I consider the Delicate Arch a must-see.

How can you go all the way to Arches and not see the famous landmark?

It’s memorable and your kids will probably remember it as the best trail in Arches National Park.

The hike itself is gorgeous and you can see it up close for yourself. It offers an amazing photo op: a photo of yourself underneath or in front of the famous Delicate Arch!

This is a bit longer than the other recommended easy Arches hikes, but if your kids can swing it, then do it!

There are a few moderate inclines, but otherwise is doable if you’re able to walk for 3 miles. We’ve hiked it with babies, toddlers, and even a 4 year old (this may be the hardest age for hiking – too big to be carried and too little to hike far).

If you want to miss the crowds and see some spectacular colors, I’ve heard great things about hiking at sunrise in Arches National Park (admittedly something I’d never do).  

It really is even better than it appears in photos!

Take some time to learn about the native lands. The National Park Service recognizes several native tribes that have a connection to Arches National Park, including:

Pueblo of Zuni (or A:shiwi),

the Hopi Tribe,

the Southern Ute Indian Tribe,

Ute Indian Tribe-Uintah and Ouray,

the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, and

the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.

Do you need and Arches National Park Ticket? Yes!

To enter Arches National Park during April – October, you must have a timed entry ticket between 6 am and 5 pm.

It is best to get a reservation for Arches National Park weeks, if not months, in advance.

If you are unable to obtain an Arches National Park entrance ticket in advance, try getting one the night before you’d like to go at the entrance station.

Even during peak season they hold a few last-minute Arches National Park tickets. (My friend had luck getting some of these last May.)

It may be more economical to purchase a National Parks Pass rather than a day pass.

The full price for an annual pass is $80, and it is discounted to $20 for seniors (or $80 for a senior lifetime pass).

Federal lands volunteers, military, persons with disabilities, and all 4th  graders can get a FREE pass!

Generally speaking, Arches National Park is crowded!

Instead of feeling dismayed at the lack of solitude that you might experience, consider feeling grateful that so many people get to experience these incredible places.

However, I understand wanting to get away from everyone!

A significant way to avoid crowds is planning when to visit Arches. Carefully pick the time of year, day of the week and hours of the day to visit.

I’ve found that being flexible helps a lot with dealing with crowds.

If a parking lot is full, move on to the next one. There are so many awesome, easy hikes in Arches that you’re really not missing out if you have to swap out your planned hike for a different one.

With some flexibility and planning, you can avoid the bulk of the crowd using these tips.

Go in winter. Spring, summer, and fall are the peak tourist season, but each park is just as beautiful in winter.

Plus, the desert is very hot in the summer which makes hiking or keeping kids happy difficult.

We’ve visited Capitol Reef National Park and Zion National Park in winter and rarely saw another person on the trails.

Go early. Can you imagine the red rock against a sunrise?

The colors of an Arches National Park sunrise are spectacular.

If you’re like us and have a toddler waking everyone up early while on vacation, take advantage and check out the sunrise in Arches National Park.

You won’t be disappointed!

Go late. The majority of tourists head out of the park for dinner. Go in the late afternoon around 4 or 5 pm and catch a sunset in Arches National Park.

Stay for sunset. Sunset in Arches National Park is not to be missed! The rocks turn incredible shades of orange and red. Pack in a picnic dinner and enjoy you Arches National Park sunset!

Avoid holidays. Holidays, including spring breaks, are very crowded times to go. The winter holidays are also busy.

Avoid weekends. Like most anything, weekdays are better. Avoid Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and, if possible, go on Tuesday or Wednesday, which typically have the fewest crowds.

 Do your part to protect our parks! Practice these Leave No Trace Principles:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

Also, please don’t carve on the rocks and stay off the cryptobiotic soil!

Wear old clothes – it’s tough to get that red sand out!

Speaking of sand, expect to have red sand in your car for weeks (or months or even years) to come. Think of it as a souvenir!

Kids tend to be much more willing to hike when they are appropriately dressed for the weather (at least ours are!). The desert can be cold at night, even in the summer nights.

Have lots of snacks on hand. A little treat goes a long way!

Sunscreen up every 2 hours. That desert sun is strong.

Take more water than you think you’ll need. It’s easy to get parched in the dry desert air.

Pets are not allowed in most places in Arches National Park, including hiking trails.

Already been? Let me know in the comments what you think is the best hike at Arches National Park!

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